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Information about Neutrinos

Published on November 13, 2008

Author: wogsland



A discussion of the basic quantum mechanics behind neutrino mixing.

What is a Neutrino? Bradley J. Wogsland University of Tennessee What am I? ν

Quantum Weirdness λ = h/p ● Quanta are not particles – But can be approximated as such in limit of large momenta ● Quanta are not waves – But can be approximated as such in limit of low momenta

Examples ● Monsieur de Broglie – riding his bicycle at about 25 mph would have a wavelength λ ≈ 10-37m (and about 1030 eV/c momentum) ● Photons – visible light at λ ≈ 500nm has about 2.5 eV/c per photon ● Neutrinos...

Wolfgang Pauli ● Made up neutrino to conserve lepton number ● n → p+ + e- + νe ● Had already worked for Dirac vis a vis the positron Pauli & Bohr at the top of physics

The Standard Model ● Tabulation of the results of “particle” physics ● Like the periodic table in Chemistry ● A good guide, but starting to get a little too stretched at the seams...

The Weak Interaction ● Allows quarks & leptons to change flavor ● For example, neutron decay can be written - d(ud) → u(ud) + e + νe ● (quarks not involved in the decay but still bound in the baryon are in parentheses) ● Similar c to s and t to b reactions also occur

Massive Particles ● Must travel at subluminal velocities ● How fast they travel through the vacuum at a given energy depends on the mass -iEt |ψ(t)> = e |ψ(0)> E= p m 2 2 with

Bruno Pontecorvo ● Born in 1913 (Pisa, Italy) ● Worked under Fermi ● Fled Italian fascism to North America in the mid-1930's ● Proposed inverse β-decay detection of neutrinos in 1946 via 37 ● Cl + νe → 37Ar + e- ● Fled to the USSR after arrest of Klaus Fuchs in 1950 ● Predicted neutrino oscillations in 1957 ● Dies in 1993 (Dubna, Russia)

Pontecorvo's Idea ● The mass eigenstates of neutrinos don't correspond to the flavor eigenstates. ● This is expressed by the PMNS matrix: [v1] [3/4 -1/8 1/8 ] [v e] [v2] ≈ [1/4 3/8 -3/8 ] [v μ] [v3] [ 0 1/2 1/2 ] [v τ] (All terms are squareroots)

Geometrically θ12 ≈ π/6 θ23 ≈ π/4 θ13 ≈ 0 (< .2)

Quarks do it,too ● This is expressed by the CKM matrix: [d] [.97 .22 .0037] [d m] [s] ≈ [.22 .97 .04 ] [s m] [b] [ 0 .04 .99 ] [b m] (Here the weak eigenstates are on the left) ● Note that there is almost no mixing in this case

Mass Differences ● So far, only the differences between the mass eigenstates can be measured ● |∆m12| ≈ 9 meV ● |∆m32| ≈ 50 meV ● Overall upper bound ~200meV

Neutrino Mass Hierarchies 2 m3 2 m2 m12 m21 2 m32 2 m32 2 2 m2 m2 21 (0.00 eV )22 (0.20 (0.10 (0.23 2 m12 m3 “Verted” “Inverted”

So what is a neutrino? A massive neutral lepton that interacts weakly. To calculate its propagation, use the mass basis. To calculate its probability of interacting weakly, use the flavor basis. What am I? Really? ν

An Analogy ● An electron is a spin-½ particle ● We can measure this spin either up or down ● Nevertheless, an electron can be in a state where it has a certain probability to be up and a certain probability to be down ● Generally, we don't think of spin up and spin down electrons as two different particles, but as electrons with different spin orientations

Don't be surprised when neutrino oscillations become a textbook example of a macroscopic quantum effect. Recommended reading: Neutrino Oscillations for Dummies

A Few BIG Questions Remain ● What are the actual neutrino mass eigenstates? – Currently we can only measure the differences. ● Is the neutrino its own antiparticle? – Majorana or Dirac question ● Is there a deeper reason for so much mixing, unlike the quark case? ● How did this craft of junk cross the Atlantic?

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